Village Clerk Scaman running for village president in 2021

Scaman joins batch of announced, rumored candidates

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Vicki Scaman, Oak Park's first term village clerk, will run for village president in April 2021. She has registered her candidacy for the 2021 race. This makes her Oak Park's second elected official to enter the race. Village Trustee Simone Boutet announced her intention late last year.

Scaman confirmed her run but declined an interview request. "I am unable to comment at this time. My desire is to see the village board concentrate on the work they have in front of them."

Boutet filed her own candidacy with the Illinois Board of Elections back in September. On July 6 she confirmed her plans to run have not changed.

"I'm running to change the way our government responds to the citizens and stakeholders," said Boutet.

Boutet believes Oak Park has a "culture of saying no" and that she wants to change that culture to one where the "needs of the community drive our government."

Four other candidates have expressed interest in running or have been rumored to be candidates. Petition filing for the race comes in late 2020.

Bob Tucker, a former two term village trustee, said Monday he has yet to decide whether or not he will run for village president next year.

"I plan to decide by the end of this month, by the end of July," Tucker told Wednesday Journal.

Tucker has been discussing a potential run with people whose opinions he values.

"For the past couple weeks, pretty much every evening, I've sat down with someone in my backyard whose opinions I'm interested in hearing and who are asking me to run," Tucker said.

Deno Andrews, a sitting trustee has long been rumored to be a potential candidate. He said Monday that he has not decided and that the current stresses on village government from COIVD-19 and policing issues. He said it is too early to decide and too early to begin campaigning.

Cate Readling mounted a last-minute write-in campaign for village president in 2017. She may soon enter the 2021 race. She has not formally announced for the race but confirmed she has launched an exploratory committee. She works as the community outreach coordinator for the Park District of Oak Park.

Readling also declined an interview request.

Anan Abu-Taleb, currently in his second term as mayor, said he has not decided whether he might run for an unprecedented third term.

"At this point, I'm not thinking about campaigns; I'm not thinking about who's running and who's not," Abu-Taleb said. "I'm just focused on what the community elected me to do which is taking care of the taxpayers and serving the community."

The COVID-19 pandemic, Abu-Taleb said, has commanded his attention and energy, as well as that of village staff.

"I don't know if people realize how busy we have been to combat this pandemic," Abu-Taleb said. "Everything we've been doing in village hall has been turned upside down."

Abu-Taleb cited COVID-19 related revenue shortfalls, as well as new services the village is providing to help small businesses and improving communication with the public as key focuses.

"And add to that, we have this social uprising," he said. "We have a lot on our plate; staff has been extremely busy, and I've been just trying to take care of what I was elected to do."

Andrews expressed similar sentiments to Abu-Taleb's regarding the current state of both Oak Park and the country, saying, "We're in a very stressful time with COVID, with policing."

Andrews said he has not made any decisions regarding a potential run for village president.

"I honestly have given almost zero thought to next year's election," he said. "I think it's just still way too early to be making those decisions and starting the campaign."

If Andrews were to enter the race, he said he would run for the same reason he ran for village trustee: to serve the people of Oak Park.

"I'm just not a fan of people campaigning at the board table, and I certainly don't want to be accused of such if I decide to run," Andrews said.

Andrews said he currently is focused on making good decisions for Oak Park and getting through the COVID-19 crisis.

"I really, really have made no decisions and I have not made any decisions on what I'm going to run for or if I'm going to run at all," Andrews said.

Tucker is chief operating officer of the Chicago Community Loan Fund, which provides financial assistance benefitting low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Chicago.

"I have a full-time job that is all about investing in and helping support disadvantaged communities of color throughout Chicagoland," said Tucker.

As the nation's population calls for racial equity and investment in disenfranchised communities, Tucker said engagement with his non-profit has only grown.

Individuals and organizations are "engaging even more so than they have in the past with my organization and we're very busy," Tucker said. "It's good that we're busy."

Tucker expects his work will continue to be demanding in coming months and is factoring that into his decision regarding the village presidential election.

"I just have to figure out if I want to make that next step and actually run for office."

Boutet has been the most open candidate in the race having declared her interest nine months back.

She discussed her platform for a planned campaign.

 "Those needs include moving forward on racial equity, rebounding from the pandemic, adopting progressive budget reform and becoming a fully transparent and inclusive government," said Boutet.

Boutet will campaign on the premise of bringing greater transparency to all aspects of village government, including in the presentation of information on the Oak Park village website and the process by which Oak Park tracks citizen complaints in the police department.

"I've been running on transparency since my first run," Boutet said. "I think it's one of the essences of good government."

So far, Boutet has amassed a "handful" of volunteers and a campaign manager to assist her in her village presidential run.

Boutet noted she is also trying to diversify the village board racially by encouraging Black community members to run for village trustee but that those efforts have been unsuccessful.

"I have been trying to recruit African American candidates to the village board since last year," she said. "Nothing successful."

Boutet said she has also been in discussions with other potential candidates for Oak Park village president but did not reveal any names.

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Reader Comments

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Julia Otten Knier from OAK PARK  

Posted: July 14th, 2020 3:19 PM

I've appreciated Simone's leadership at the board meetings and in the village. She's always available to listen and share her wisdom. Seeing her research a topic before weighing in, listening to Oak Parkers' views and fellow trustees; I'm confident she'll bring her strategic ability to this role. Further, her experience has consistently shown she can remain calm & neutral ensuring wise decisions are reached.

Katie Murphy from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2020 4:48 PM

@George I agree. Vicki has a solid background. I have learned so much about her and from her over the last four years, and look forward to working with her for many more to come. Oak Park needs a true leader and I implore everyone to do their do diligence to do as much research on all candidates to ensure they are making the best decision, not just for themselves, but for their neighbors as well.Oak Park needs better and deserves better.

George Irving Thompson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2020 11:33 AM

Vicky Scaman would be an easy choice for me to support for Village President. Vicky has dedicated her whole career to serving the public good. Vicki has the temperament and good judgement to facilitate a discussion about both sides of an issue, find common ground, and build consensus ?" without significant personal conflict. Her experience as village clerk provides her with a grasp of village operations and organization; and an established working relationship with the current village manager. She has experience working to promote cultural diversity in our children lives with her past experience in children educational and leadership programs. She also worked hard as a political activist with me several years ago to improve our village laws regarding efforts to reduce teen alcohol and drug use. She is very knowledgeable about educational, societal, and mental health issues in our community. Her whole career has been to unselfishly be a pubic servant with a calming demeanor but also with an ability to provide direction and get objectives accomplished

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 4:50 PM

Can someone please sit in Bob Tucker's back yard and ask him to not run. The devastating mess he voted for on Lake Street this year is more than enough of a legacy.

Ken Van Spankerswanson  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 3:39 PM

@David Slade, I am in 100% agreement with you. The village broad always says "yes" and the slow streets proposal passing 6-1 is evidence of that as well as my tax bill.

Orlando Jaime Rivero from Oak Park  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 2:31 PM

Living as a gay Latino "Oak Parker" for 3 years, Simone has been the only trustee I've seen achieve progress in her endeavors and professional goals in her village board position. Her approach to issues is comforting, especially in these trying times, since she clearly takes the time to analyze the situation at hand and consult citizens, firsthand, before pursuing the most reasonable solution. Her transparency in her efforts makes me feel more secure in her decision making, especially as a double minority. Her commitment to right the injustices faced by minorities in Oak Park along with her passion in increasing minority representation in all aspects of Oak Park life are just some of the many reasons why she is the Village President Oak Park needs come 2021!

Winifred Haun  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 1:10 PM

Question for the Wednesday Journal: how come this article briefly mentions the two women who have announced they are running, and then quickly moves onto to detailed descriptions of the men who have not even announced yet? Of course, at the bottom of the page, we go back to the women. But how about a headline that mentions that 2 women are running for Village president? And then talk about that. (After the men announce, they can get space.)

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 12:32 PM

"Simone started as Assistant Village Attorney long before the recent Administration changed the face of Oak Park." There were two past female presidents of O.P. as well as minority board members. I don't think that statement is entirely correct. I promised to do some minor after hours field work for her and look forward to performing as tasked if the knee surgery goes well.

Kate Ronan Upholstery  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 10:54 AM

Simone started as the Assistant Village Attorney long before the recent administration changed the face of Oak Park. Her knowledge of the intricate workings of the Village is priceless. Hopefully she can "Keep Oak Park.... Oak Park!"

Karen McCarthy from Oak Park  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 10:30 AM

I'm glad to hear that Simone Boutet is running for OP Village President. She has the experience and vision we need and will work for all of us. She listens to what villagers are saying and considers what's best for all of us.

Winifred Haun from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 10:26 AM

It seems like Simone Boutet is the only one actually prepared to be the Village president. She has ideas, and energy, she knows the community, and she's willing to work hard for the place she loves. The other candidates (like Mayor Anon) seem to be whining about how hard the job is. Maybe it's time they moved on and let others get the work done?

Christine Baumbach  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 9:45 AM

What happens when a trustee listens? I was so impressed with Simone Boutet last summer when citizens pressed to revisit the board decision on recreational cannabis sales. Boutet took the opportunity to really listen to various opinions and experiences, research what other communities have done and change her vote based on new information. That shows a confidence, openness, and intelligence that I value in an official. Since then I've been following her on Facebook and have been impressed by how often she reaches out with critical information and always asks for a response. As a citizen I'll be listening as this campaign ramps up. But especially listening to Simone Boutet.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 9:01 AM

Vicki has done a great job as the village clerk. I just want a village president that focuses on the basic services. Anyone running who uses the words "defund the police" will not get my vote.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: July 8th, 2020 8:56 AM

Hoo boy... one candidate is already running on a platform of going against an OP govt "culture of saying no" ?!! Lord help us. Typical lawyer who has never had to actually run an organization and balance finite resources against actual trade-offs, just billable hours to clients.

Julie Blankemeier from Oak Park   

Posted: July 7th, 2020 10:27 PM

I have known Simone for years, and she is passionate about doing what is right for our community. She has no ulterior motives.I am so pleased that she is running.

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2020 9:05 PM

"Boutet believes Oak Park has a "culture of saying no" and that she wants to change that culture to one where the "needs of the community drive our government."" My tax bill would say otherwise.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: July 7th, 2020 9:04 PM

Cate Readling filed today for President. There are already three candidates, all women.

Rebecca Keller from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2020 8:35 PM

Simone Boutet is both strong and compassionate. She is interested in developing solutions to the problems facing us, responsible and transparent government, and honest and forthright conversations.

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